South Bank Shell Centre plans approved by government

Artist's impression of the redeveloped Shell Centre Image copyright Braeburn Estates
Image caption The eight new buildings around the Shell Centre will have new homes, offices and shops

Plans to build a cluster of eight buildings around the Shell Centre on London's South Bank have been approved by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Flats, offices, shops and restaurants will be part of the estimated £1bn development and all 4,000 Shell's city-based staff will move to the site.

Lambeth Council and Mayor Boris Johnson passed the scheme last year but there were concerns over conservation rules.

Developers Braeburn Estates hope to begin construction in late summer.

Last September, Mr Pickles called in Braeburn's plans - a joint venture between Canary Wharf Group Plc and Qatari Diar - saying the department would review "any potential impact on the Unesco World Heritage Site by Parliament Square".

The 27-storey Shell Centre Tower will remain the centrepiece with offices, trading floors for Shell, shops, restaurants and about 877 new homes, including affordable housing, added.

It could take up to six years for the project to be completed, giving employment to an average of 700 workers.

Sir George Iacobescu, chairman and chief executive officer of Canary Wharf Group, said: "We feel privileged to have this opportunity to play a role in regenerating this popular but somewhat neglected area of London."

Qatari Diar Group's chief executive officer, Mr. Khaled Al Sayed, said the "priority" was to "get this construction project moving".

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